Ultrasound transducer positioning aid for fetal heart rate monitoring

P.C. Hamelmann, A. Kolen, L. Schmitt, R. Vullings, H.C. van Assen, M. Mischi, L. Demi, J.O.E.H. van Laar, J.W.M. Bergmans

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contributionAcademicpeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)
325 Downloads (Pure)


Fetal heart rate (fHR) monitoring is usually performed by Doppler ultrasound (US) techniques. For reliable fHR measurements it is required that the fetal heart is located within the US beam. In clinical practice, clinicians palpate the maternal abdomen to identify the fetal presentation and then the US transducer is fixated on the maternal abdomen where the best fHR signal can be obtained. Finding the optimal transducer position is done by listening to the strength of the Doppler audio output and relying on a signal quality indicator of the cardiotocographic (CTG) measurement system. Due to displacement of the US transducer or displacement of the fetal heart out of the US beam, the fHR signal may be lost. Therefore, it is often necessary that the obstetrician repeats the tedious procedure of US transducer positioning to avoid long periods of fHR signal loss. An intuitive US transducer positioning aid would be highly desirable to increase the work flow for the clinical staff. In this paper, the possibility to determine the fetal heart location with respect to the transducer by exploiting the received signal power in the transducer elements is shown. A commercially available US transducer used for fHR monitoring is connected to an US open platform, which allows individual driving of the elements and raw US data acquisition. Based on the power of the received Doppler signals in the transducer elements, the fetal heart location can be estimated. A beating fetal heart setup was designed and realized for validation. The experimental results show the feasibility of estimating the fetal heart location with the proposed method. This can be used to support clinicians in finding the optimal transducer position for fHR monitoring more easily.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publication2016 38th Annual International Conference of the IEEE Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society (EMBC), Orlando, FL, USA, 2016
ISBN (Electronic)978-1-4577-0220-4/
Publication statusPublished - 2016
Event38th Annual International Conference of the IEEE Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society (EMBC 2016) - Disney’s Contemporary Resort , Orlando, United States
Duration: 16 Aug 201620 Aug 2016
Conference number: 38


Conference38th Annual International Conference of the IEEE Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society (EMBC 2016)
Abbreviated titleEMBC 2016
Country/TerritoryUnited States
Internet address


  • Antenna radiation patterns
  • Doppler effect
  • Fetal heart
  • fetal heart rate
  • Monitoring
  • Phantoms
  • Transducers


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